February 2, 2010

US Military To Shift Focus

The responsibilities of the US military are about to be expanded to include new horizons based on a long-awaited administration report released on Monday.

Details of those horizons, which include space and cyberspace defense, were released by US defense secretary Robert Gates as part of the Obama administration's Quadrennial Defense Review. The goal is to shift emphasis from the post-cold war principle that the US is capable of fighting two "major regional conflicts" at one time.

The US military plans to restructure its forces to succeed in the wars of today, according to a draft put together in December. The military also plans to buy more unmanned drones that have more than proved their worth in Iraq and Afghanistan. The draft also highlights multiple threats which include cyber-attacks, anti-satellite weaponry and threats from terrorism.

US forces should no longer be sized, shaped, and evaluated based on the aspect of "Ëœmajor regional conflicts' alone, according to the draft. "Rather, US forces must be prepared to conduct a wide variety of missions under a range of different circumstances."

The draft also details the possibility of "regional powers armed with modest numbers of nuclear weapons, as well as larger more powerful states," to become threats and be listed as US adversaries within ten years. It also foresees a 75,000 strong US military presence that remains in Afghanistan for the "near and mid-term future," despite Obama's plans to drawdown the mainstay in Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.

While Obama's freeze on discretionary spending excludes national security spending, many experts see a modest increase in the core budget next year before spending flattens out in the medium term. What that means is substantially less money for equipment and research. A spending freeze on the overall defense budget would appease some Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, who feel a $660 billion defense budget in 2010 is putting a strain on the already expanding national deficit. 

The Defense Business Board, which advises the Pentagon on industrial issues, said in mid-January that lower budgets could lead to a major re-organization within the US industrial base. The Pentagon's spending plans are already underfunded, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office.


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